Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, and it looks like we may be in for a possible replay of that horrific disaster in which tens of thousands lost their lives. Yesterday, Israel bombed alleged “terrorist camps” in Syria. The excuse: yet another suicide bombing in Israel, this time taking 19 innocent lives, immediately claimed by Islamic Jihad (which denied having military bases in Syria). This was one of the deadliest suicide bombings since the beginning of the Intifada, but in principle no different from the dozens of other vicious acts of terror that are now a feature of daily life in Israel. What is different, however, is that Israel’s strategic orientation has radically changed.

Whereas 30 years ago, Israel was on the defensive, and to a large degree dependent on the U.S., today they are clearly prepared to act on their own – without waiting for Washington’s okay.

That is the chief result of the Iraq war – the unleashing of Israel. We are seeing the first fruits of our Pyrrhic “victory” in this latest foray by an emboldened Ariel Sharon, who clearly hopes that the stalemated outcome of the first Yom Kippur war can now be overturned.

Taken by surprise, in 1973, Israeli forces reeled from the combined Egyptian-Syrian sneak attack. Aided by “Operation Nickel Grass,” an airlift of vital military supplies from the U.S., the Israelis held their positions and then started to push back – coming within 43 miles of Cairo and taking the Golan Heights before the UN called a halt. Today, it is the Syrians who have been taken by surprise, and, this time, the Israelis may not stop until they roll through the streets of Damascus. That, at least, is the threat implicit in their actions.

The Iraq war, as we are beginning to discover, had nothing to do with “weapons of mass destruction,” zero to do with Al Qaeda, and zilch to do with implanting “democracy” in the inhospitable soil of Iraq. The first phase of the second Yom Kippur War is revealing, in action, the strategic doctrine at the heart of U.S. Middle Eastern policy: the installation of Israel as regional hegemon.

This doctrine was prefigured in a 1996 paper prepared for then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a working group consisting of several individuals who are now in top spots in the Bush administration. “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” recommended that Israel set itself free from its embarrassing and debilitating dependence on U.S. military and diplomatic support: no matter how unconditional, this support constrained Israel and prevented it from pursuing its true interests. The paper, co-authored by Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, portrayed Syria as the main enemy of Israel, but maintained the road to Damascus had to first pass through Baghdad:

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria’s regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq.”

Today, three of Netanyahu’s advisors – Perle, Feith, and David Wurmser – occupy top spots in the foreign policy councils of the Bush administration, where their fulsome support for the Iraq war helped implement the first part of the plan. David Wurmser is chief aide to Undersecretary of Defense John Bolton, who, before a single shot was fired against Iraq, was already promising Sharon that Syria would be next. As Ha’aretz reported at the time (scroll down):

“U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in meetings with Israeli officials on Monday that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterwards.”

In February, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was already demanding action against Syria. At a meeting with a delegation of U.S. congressmen, Sharon handed the Americans their marching orders:

“Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. ‘These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,’ Sharon said to a visiting delegation of American congressmen. Sharon told the congressmen that Israel was not involved in the war with Iraq ‘but the American action is of vital importance.'”

But instead of being converted on the road to Damascus, the Americans were deterred from launching future wars by the unpleasant political and military blowback emanating from that deepening quagmire. Karl Rove’s “no wars in ’04” dictum threw a roadblock in the path of the pro-Israeli neoconservatives in the U.S. government, who are now under siege as a result of the Plame affair. The Israelis, enraged by this turn of events, are now playing their trump card.

The Israeli attack on Syria is a replication of the U.S. attack on Iraq: the claim of terrorist “links” is followed by unilateral military action – this time, however, in defiance of the whole world, including the U.S. rather than just the UN. The actors are different, but the principle is the same, a similarity Israel’s American amen corner will no doubt raise in order to justify Sharon’s reckless provocation. Israel, we are endlessly told, has the right to “defend” itself – even if it means conquering and occupying all of Palestine and driving the original inhabitants into Jordan. As “A Clean Break” projected the plan:

“Since Iraq’s future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq.”

Let’s hand our Palestinian problem over to the Hashemites, say radical Likud hard-liners and their American supporters. There is no such people as the Palestinians, anyway, as Joan Peters and Alan Dershowitz aver: they are really just Jordanians. A Hashemite restoration in Iraq would pave the way for the creation of a Greater Israel, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham in the Bible:

“To your descendants I give this land from the River of Egypt to the Great River, the river Euphrates.”

Israel, with its overweening military might, would dominate the Middle East. This is the goal of the Christian dispensationalist ministers, such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who believe Israeli hegemony in the Middle East represents the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. But a prophecy, in their view, can be self-fulfilling: it is their Christian duty, they believe, to hurry it along.

The Christian apocalyptic vision of Armageddon in the Middle East – its inevitability and desirability as a portent of the Second Coming of Christ – is the key to understanding conservative Republican support for our war policy in Iraq. The fundies are perfectly aligned with neoconservative efforts to spread the conflict to Syria, Iran, and beyond, a development that would fulfill not only Biblical prophecy but also the direst predictions of anti-war advocates.

The recent report on Israel’s growing military superiority out of Tel Aviv University’s prestigious Jaffee Center led to widespread worries of Israeli “complacency,” and, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:

“The Jaffee researchers acknowledge that some of Israel´s new strategic gains depend on whether the United States manages to stabilize the regime in Iraq or whether it gets bogged down. If the latter happens, some of Israel´s gains could be wiped out, they say.”

The political and military bog in which George W. Bush is caught has him and his advisors, notably Rumslfeld, scrambling for an exit strategy. Before this can happen, Israel is seizing the moment to consolidate its gains. The attack on Syria comes just when Colin Powell has been raising more voluble objections to the odious “Wall of Separation” subsidized by U.S. tax dollars, and the threat to kill or exile Arafat is being taken seriously enough to raise serious concerns even among Israel’s staunchest friends. Worse, from the Israeli perspective, is the news of secret peace talks between Washington and Tehran. Sharon, feeling betrayed, is saying: Expand the war, or I will.

Dependent on the Republican activist base of millions of dispensationalist Christians, who put Israeli interests first, the President of the United States is powerless to stop Sharon’s rampage. With his “road map” derailed, and the neocons already turning on him (or threatening to), George W. Bush must be content to watch helplessly as Sharon, the main benefactor of the Iraq war, moves to harvest the fruits of the American victory – while the White House is stuck with an $87 billion bill, rising casualties, and a simmering political scandal that threatens to unravel Bush’s presidency.

This is the thanks Bush gets for going to war for Israel’s sake. Let that be a lesson to him. Too bad it comes far too late in the day to save either his presidency or his place in history. But better late than never.


Our Fall fundraising drive is a great success, and that is due to you, our faithful and heroic readers. As of this writing, we have received just over $32,000. For that, I can’t thank you enough. Your contributions are deeply appreciated: it’s a feeling of tremendous validation to see that so many of our readers have stuck by us. The sheer number of contributions is overwhelming. I am so moved that words, uncharacteristically, fail me, so I’ll just say this: we’ll work day and night to deserve this wonderful vote of confidence.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].